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Small Game

Cleaning Squirrels

Uploaded on September 21, 2009

By clicking on the link for "elmer fudd" you will see in "photos' a photo with text outlining the best way to clean a squirrel. Click on the photo to make it larger.

I was thinking about other tips while cleaning some squirrels this week. I have known people to give up squirrel hunting because they disliked cleaning them!

*Skinning is first, before opening up the abdomen.

*Skin the squirrel as shown. Note especially the tips that you don't want to put the squirrel tail under your toes but under mid-foot, and that it is easy to get confused and cut on the wrong part of the tail. You should be staring right at the anus of the squirrel or you are on the wrong side of the tail!

*While cutting through the tail, pull on it to open up the vertebra, or you may get frustrated and even cut yourself. If you persist, you will find a spot that will cut easily using this technique. The hide is tough so there is little danger you will cut through it at this point, and start the process here of getting the meat to separate from the hide with your knife and fingers.

*The next step calls for widening the hide the tail is attached to. It is critical to make this quite wide, or you may find it breaks off. You also want to encourage the hide to start splitting in the direction of the lower stomach. After pulling a bit I check to see if the hide is splitting high towards the ribs, if it is I use the knife to re-direct this splitting.

*Also at this step, working on the hind quarters, you try to do as little damage to the best meat of the squirrel as possible. This means it is not so much about speed.

*Don't take your foot off the tail till you get to the skin on the hind legs and pull that off too as the photo shows.

*You should be able to cut off the front paws easily. The back feet can be harder, I recommend forcing the foot to go in the direction it resists, breaking the ankle. Once this is broken a good knife will cut right through it.

*When cutting off the head, I cut all around the neck flesh, then just twist the head off.

*When removing the stomach and intestines, you aren't finished till you take your knife and cut through the little bone in the front of the hip girdle [the pubic bone]. You will find a little stretch of intestine often hiding a pellet or two of feces. You don't want to be cooking that.

If I think of anything else I'll post it in comments.

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from Elmer Fudd wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

direct link to the photo with instructions

http://www.fieldandstream.com/photos/trophyroom/recent/single?pnid=10013...

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from dogcreek wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

I have a different method. I'm not saying it's better. I always field-dress squirrels. When I clean them, I first cut off the feet, tail and head. Then I make a slit through the skin, across the body at the middle back. I grab the skin at end side of the slit and pull in opposite directions with both hands at once. This will move the hide to the front and rear legs. Then grab around the mid back with one hand and pull each piece of hide the rest of the way off. You may have to adjust your grip to work the skin over the front legs. Remove any fat, which may be found along the sides of the back legs, as well as the fat in the armpit area. Remove any remaining loose tissue inside. This usually doesn't leave much hair on the carcass. Any hair can be removed by rubbing, or by using an old, clean toothbrush, while rinsing under cold running water. This will yield six pieces of meat, the four legs and the back, which is cut into two pieces. Discard the neck, which will be tough.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

the slit across the back is OK and sometimes better for really young ones. But when it comes to getting the hide past the "elbows" the above method can't be beat!! takes practice tho, and go by the tips too.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

>using an old, clean toothbrush,

I'll have to try that. Everybody agrees the hairs sticking to the meat is aggravating.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 4 years 12 weeks ago

a lot of new interest recently in this sort of thing with new hunters I notice, so hopefully this is found to be useful

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

I use a squirrel skinner, but remember to remove the "kernels" from under the armpits (front legs) of the squirrel, or they will taste gamy and putrid.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 3 years 30 weeks ago

>the "kernels"

thanks for the additional tip. They must not bother me though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dennis Bowles wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

I used these step by step instructions to learn the method discribed by Elmer above. I used to do it the way Dogcreek described but found this way was more efficient and much cleaner! Less hair on meat, less mess on hands and clothes!

www.squirrelhuntinghq.com

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

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from dogcreek wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

I have a different method. I'm not saying it's better. I always field-dress squirrels. When I clean them, I first cut off the feet, tail and head. Then I make a slit through the skin, across the body at the middle back. I grab the skin at end side of the slit and pull in opposite directions with both hands at once. This will move the hide to the front and rear legs. Then grab around the mid back with one hand and pull each piece of hide the rest of the way off. You may have to adjust your grip to work the skin over the front legs. Remove any fat, which may be found along the sides of the back legs, as well as the fat in the armpit area. Remove any remaining loose tissue inside. This usually doesn't leave much hair on the carcass. Any hair can be removed by rubbing, or by using an old, clean toothbrush, while rinsing under cold running water. This will yield six pieces of meat, the four legs and the back, which is cut into two pieces. Discard the neck, which will be tough.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

I use a squirrel skinner, but remember to remove the "kernels" from under the armpits (front legs) of the squirrel, or they will taste gamy and putrid.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

direct link to the photo with instructions

http://www.fieldandstream.com/photos/trophyroom/recent/single?pnid=10013...

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

the slit across the back is OK and sometimes better for really young ones. But when it comes to getting the hide past the "elbows" the above method can't be beat!! takes practice tho, and go by the tips too.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

>using an old, clean toothbrush,

I'll have to try that. Everybody agrees the hairs sticking to the meat is aggravating.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 4 years 12 weeks ago

a lot of new interest recently in this sort of thing with new hunters I notice, so hopefully this is found to be useful

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dennis Bowles wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

I used these step by step instructions to learn the method discribed by Elmer above. I used to do it the way Dogcreek described but found this way was more efficient and much cleaner! Less hair on meat, less mess on hands and clothes!

www.squirrelhuntinghq.com

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 3 years 30 weeks ago

>the "kernels"

thanks for the additional tip. They must not bother me though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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